IMS: Navigating The Nuances Of Marketing In Latin America

IMSartLatin America marks great opportunity for media buyers and brands looking to monetize and scale their reach in emerging markets. In Mexico alone, eMarketer estimates total media ad spend was $5.2 billion in 2012. Yet understanding the cultural nuances of each Latin American country is as important as the financial and operational intricacies of the region.

As one of the largest independent marketing and media companies in Latin America, IMS works directly with technology platforms like Twitter, Netflix and Waze in addition to partnering with more than 60 media-buying agencies.

Maren Lau, partner and SVP, marketing and corporate development for IMS, told AdExchanger what she’s seeing from the IMS base in Argentina.

AdExchanger: What are some key trends you’re seeing in Latin America?

MAREN LAU: We’re seeing huge adoption rates of technology infrastructure, so broadband is growing, the ability to download data is faster and better, and…it’s being combined with something cultural. If we generalized by the region, as a whole, they are very social. I think Brazil and Mexico are at the forefront of ecommerce, and in Argentina, ecommerce is starting to really emerge now. About 94% of Internet users in Latin America are on social platforms vs. about 64% in the US. That speaks to Mexico and the rest of Latin America really having an affinity for social media.

How do the cultural nuances of each country affect your business?

On a very simple level, understanding the cultural nuances and the way you need to communicate on a country-by-country level is very important. You can’t take a campaign from the US, translate it to Spanish and deploy it to Latin America. You also need to be aware of differences among the countries. In some countries, you’re using “Tú,” which is the informal ‘you’ and in some countries you use the formal ‘Usted.’

Understanding tone of voice whether it’s paid, earned or owned media is very important. Mexico tends to be a more formal country while Argentina is much more informal and marketers need to be aware of that. Every country has its own operational nuance that brands need to be aware of. In Mexico, with some companies, if you want to get an invoice paid, you need to show up in-person and present your invoice between the hours of ‘X’ and ‘Y.’ That has its own logistical challenges.

Invoicing [is another issue]. This is stepping away from digital advertising, but people may think, ‘Why can’t I invoice from the US?’ You have to be able to invoice and receive payments in a country’s select currency.

What ground are you covering in programmatic media buying?

IMS has its own ad network called AdNetwork.Net. Our DSP and ad network run on platforms like MediaMath and AppNexus and Right Media, now, to a lesser extent. For our ad network, we have about 30 billion impressions monthly we’re seeing monthly and about 75% of our managed inventory is outside of Latin America. We see the Latin American perspective and then the larger, more global perspective. I think Latin America is certainly behind the US in programmatic buying and data management, which are obviously different, but we see a movement on these platforms toward integration. They are evolving, and evolving quickly.

What specifically are the changes?

There is an increased appetite toward behavioral segmentation and what else can we do to learn and understand why data targeting is so important and effective? We have large brands and large media companies that have started to use our DSP and ad network. There is still a lack of local publishers being connected or piped to these platforms, but there is tremendous opportunity to link publishers and hence, advertising inventory. A large part of what we do is we evangelize, educate media agencies, buyers and brands about why programmatic and data management are important.

What’s the key challenge for publishers, in terms of establishing those connections?

In Latin America, media buying is still [largely] done over the phone or by email. I don’t see it so much as a challenge as an opportunity. We’re talking about a marketplace evolution that is underway in Latin America, but of course it’s not at the level the US currently is at yet.

As Twitter’s exclusive sales partner for Promoted Products in Latin America, what’s top of mind from the MoPub/mobile purview?

Mobile for Twitter is obviously very important. Sixty percent of their users are also on mobile. It doesn’t mean they’re mobile-unique users, but mobile is the indispensable platform now. The fact that brands will have access to data and to mobile inventory is very appealing not just to a Twitter, but to companies that are seeking to increase their mobile presence. It will be interesting to see what happens between Facebook and Blackberry, for instance. There’s a continued convergence between mobile and social.

Can you provide some examples?

If you think about 2014, Brazil’s hosting the World Cup and on social media channels in Latin America, politics and sports are the two hot topics of conversation. In Latin America, it’s fútbol or soccer.

This integration between mobile and offline, and especially with TV is a tremendous phenomenon. Some people say that the last Obama election was the Twitter election. This will be the Twitter World Cup. December 6 is the World Cup Draw when they pick the countries that have qualified and we’ll know what brackets or groups they’ll be playing in on that day. Advertisers are going to know and be able to plan for their target countries. It’s a pretty big date for advertisers to be aware of.

Speaking to consumer trends, what will be most attractive to investors in the region?

We’re seeing great opportunities for products and services that are streaming-based to enter the region. Netflix entered Latin America a few years ago, Spotify is entering this year, and for video and music, because we see this growth of the Internet population and advancements in infrastructure, broadband and mobile penetration, streaming will be huge.

This year, (investor and business magnate) Carlos Slim’s company Grupo Carso is investing in Shazam, which will be starting advertising (in Latin America). Khan Academy, the online education company, also got an investment by Carlos Slim and are looking to enter Latin America. You’re seeing a lot of these platforms that have done well in the US and are looking for their next market and they’re choosing Latin America for the relevance to trends, demographics, engagement that advertisers want.

Which IMS projects are top of mind?

We’re working on advancing data management and pipings on the supply side. We see tremendous opportunity there. We’re excited about bringing additional value to publishers and making it easier and more efficient for advertisers to access inventory. This year, we began working with Waze and Spotify in addition to Netflix and expanding Twitter. I think it shows the interest of US brands looking to Latin America as their next growth region.

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